What is low-code Drupal development?

Low-code Drupal is a hot topic as the Drupal and wider DXP community are embracing low-code development.

Low-code development is a broad topic, but at its core, it’s an approach to building digital applications that aim to reduce the gap between developers and non-developers. In other words, it lets you do more things while using less code. 

Instead of writing code, compiling it, and running it to view the results, low-code development lets teams work the other way around: users manipulate elements via a visual interface, and the full code quietly adjusts itself behind the scenes.

Gartner estimates that by 2024, more than 65% of application development will follow a low-code approach, so here’s what you need to know about this fast-growing trend: who it’s for, what it looks like, and what pros and cons come with its adoption. 

Low-code tools and platforms

Low-code is everywhere, and it’s for everyone. 

 identifies two major audiences for these types of platforms: 

  • So-called citizen developers (also known as power users) rely on low-code platforms to accomplish various tasks despite their lack of formal technical knowledge (e.g. marketers, designers, managers)
  • Development teams, who benefit from low-code solutions through the ability to utilize their existing skill set faster and more efficiently

One of the most recognizable examples of a low-code platform geared to the former audience is the WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) website builder, which lets users manipulate visual elements as they would appear on the page, and the underlying HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is generated accordingly. This means that marketers and designers can collaborate on landing pages without having to work with a front-end developer. 

Common types of low-code platforms and apps include:

  • Enterprise app creation platforms like Zoho and QuickBase
  • WYSIWYG page builders and visual layout editors for content management systems, such as DXPR Layout Builder for Drupal or Elementor for WordPress
  • Workflow automation software like IFTTT, Zapier, Integromat, and Microsoft Flow (for end-users), or Microsoft PowerApps (for developers and IT professionals)
  • Ecommerce-in-a-box solutions such as Shopify
  • Marketing automation software like MailChimp and Marketo

Low-code Drupal development advantages

There’s a reason why low-code development is seeing a surge in popularity: it comes with a host of benefits for marketers, designers, developers, and entire organizations. It’s also a great way for self-taught people - who make up a growing part of the workforce -  to quickly acquire new skill sets, as it greatly reduces the learning curve for complex technical concepts.

Easy to learn (for everyone)

Low-code applications enable everyone in an organization to benefit from powerful workflows and capabilities that were once the sole realm of those with development or scripting knowledge. 

For marketers, this could mean no longer relying on developers to build new landing pages and forms for a website; for designers, it might look like automatically exporting visuals as code rather than having to translate them manually before handing them over to the dev team.

Accelerates work

Even if you know how to accomplish something via programming, it doesn’t mean you wouldn’t prefer a quicker way to go about it. 

Low-code development speeds up processes on multiple levels: not only are fewer people needed to create a given asset, but the ability to create flexible, reusable components eliminates considerable effort from recurring tasks.

Lowers bug risk and increases security

Manually writing code is a task that’s particularly prone to mistakes, and anyone who’s had to parse through dozens upon dozens of lines of code to pinpoint a problem will agree that those mistakes often take quite a bit of time to fix. 

By automating code generation based on visual inputs and reducing the amount of “hand-written” code required, low-code applications take things like typos and open tags out of the equation entirely. Another advantage of working with low-code solutions is the enhanced security that comes with large-scale, extensively tested, and monitored platforms. Comparatively, entirely custom-built solutions tend to be at a higher risk for vulnerabilities.

Reduces costs

Thanks to all the aforementioned benefits, adopting low-code solutions is often the most cost-effective move for businesses. It’s a great way to make operations more efficient while saving time and effort for everyone involved. It also eliminates many of the more minute aspects of quality assurance and streamlines the testing process.

It also gives teams the means to take their skills further, so what might previously have required expensive third-party consulting can now be accomplished in-house.

Low-code Drupal development drawbacks

Nothing is perfect. While their benefits outweigh their downsides in many, if not most, cases, low-code platforms do have certain disadvantages when compared to fully custom solutions.

  • It might make things harder to fix. If you build something without fully understanding what you’re doing and how it works, it’s likely going to take more than a quick glance under the hood to identify and solve potential issues.
  • It can lack nuance. With low-code platforms, a single person can often build what would otherwise require input from multiple sources. This is a clear benefit in most situations, but it does mean that certain more specific elements risk being overlooked. 
  • It can skew perceptions of scope. If building a landing page typically takes only a few minutes thanks to reusable components, requesting additional resources such as developer hours when a more complex version is required can be slightly more challenging to justify. It’s important to keep everyone on the same page when it comes to the limitations of a given platform or tool.

Low-code Drupal solutions for website development

One of the areas where low-code Drupal solutions really shine is streamlining website development thanks to user-friendly visual tools. Content management systems such as Drupal offer increasingly intuitive ways to build complex information architectures and data retrieval systems without the knowledge of PHP or SQL. When it comes to user-facing elements, DXPR provides a low-code Drupal solution that empowers marketing teams to unlock the full potential of Drupal sites. If you’re interested in building better sites, faster (and really, why wouldn’t you be?), check out the DXPR demo to see how easy it can be.


DXPR Marketing Team